Ice over in our area is officially here

December 6, 2010

by Chris Schultz

Although the official ice over date isn’t confirmed, Howard Lake became completely covered with ice sometime last week and, depending on the weather this week, the ice fishing season on our area lakes will be off and rolling very soon.

We all need to remember that no ice is ever completely safe and that it takes at least 4 inches of good solid ice for foot traffic, and 8-plus inches of good solid ice for large fish houses and small vehicle traffic.

Also, snow on top of the ice can dramatically slow the formation of ice and create varied ice conditions from one spot on any given lake to another.

Moving on, early season ice fishing is always the best ice action of the year.

In recent years Lakes Jenni and Buffalo have provided good early ice walleye action,

Sarah, Black, and Rebecca have been top spots for sunfish and Dutch and Big Waverly have been top choices for good crappie action.

Expect Pelican to continue to produce fish this winter.

Silver Lake near the City of Silver Lake may be an early ice walleye sleeper.

Conservation officers reports from area
From the DNR

• CO Brian Mies (Annandale) checked deer hunters. CO Mies checked trappers and pheasant hunters.
CO Mies continued working on several investigations.

• CO Rick Reller (Buffalo) observed the first ice shelters out on some area lakes this past weekend.
Most lakes in the area are not safe to be on and with warmer weather coming in with the wind all lakes will be very hazardous.
Reller also checked trapping and muzzleloaders in the area.
The cold weather on Saturday limited the amount of time hunters stayed in the stand.

• CO Steve Walter (Waconia) worked most of the week checking deer hunters during the 3B season and muzzleloader opener.
Waterfowl hunters were out early in the week but then all lakes were frozen and just a few birds remained on the Crow and Minnesota rivers.
Violations documented were no blaze orange clothing, no firearms safety certificates, transport loaded firearms on motor vehicle, take illegal fork horn buck in zone 338 and wanton waste of big game animal.

• CO Jackie Glaser (Mound) worked Southeast MN for the 3B deer season with CO Kruse.
She also checked duck hunters on area lakes.
Numerous phone calls were received regarding injured animals, deer regulations and trespassing complaints.

• CO Angela Graham (Hutchinson) checked deer hunters on the opening weekend of muzzleloading.
Officer Graham also checked a few anglers out reporting 3 inches of ice, pheasant hunters and trappers.
Enforcement action was taken on trespassing, no pheasant stamp, shooting from the road, and illegally possessing car killed deer.

• CO Wayne Hatlestad (Litchfield) checked archery and muzzleloader deer hunting activity.
Additional time was spent checking pheasant and waterfowl hunting activity.
Hatlestad also checked trapping activity, and enforced state forestry fire and ATV laws.

• CO Brett Oberg (Hutchinson) continues following up cases from the firearms deer season.
CO Oberg also took calls related to dumping deer, trespassing and shooting pheasants from vehicles.
CO Oberg worked primarily muzzleloader enforcement and pheasant enforcement.

Good deer hunting continues throughout Minnesota
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reports that firearm hunters have registered 171,000 deer since the firearm season opened on Nov. 6.

During opening weekend, 107,000 deer were registered.

“This year is on pace to exceed the 195,000 we harvested in 2009,” said Lou Cornicelli, DNR big game program coordinator.

Cornicelli said the new online and toll-free phone deer registration options have decreased the time lag between harvest and reporting and opening weekend numbers should not change very much over time.

Unlike previous years, when hunters took their deer to registration stations, 54 percent of this year’s successful hunters simply registered their deer by computer or phone

The northeast Minnesota firearm season (Zone 1) concluded Sunday, Nov. 21. The late southeast firearms season (Zone 3B) began Saturday, Nov. 20, and ended Sunday, Nov. 28.

The muzzleloader deer season opened on Nov. 27 and closes on Sunday, Dec. 12.

Spring turkey hunting applications accepted through Jan. 14
From the DNR

Turkey hunters have more time this year than they have traditionally had in the past to apply for this spring’s hunt, either electronically or by telephone.

The deadline to apply for the 2011 spring season has been extended by about two weeks. Applications are now being ac
cepted through Friday, Jan. 14, wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold, and online at mndnr.gov/buyalicense.

Also new this year: the youth application process is eliminated, and over-the-counter only permits will be available for the hunt’s last two time periods.

“The spring turkey application deadline tends to sneak up on hunters,” said Bill Penning, DNR farmland wildlife program leader. “Although we’ve allowed additional time this year, we still encourage hunters to apply early and avoid the last-minute rush.”

This spring’s hunt will consist of six five-day and two seven-day seasons.

All resident and nonresident wild turkey hunters interested in hunting this spring must apply electronically via the Internet, or by telephone toll-free at (888) 665-4236 (MNLICENSE).

Resident hunters must pay a nonrefundable $3 application fee at the time of application while nonresidents must pay a nonrefundable $3.50 transaction fee.

Key changes include:

• Licenses for the last two time periods will be sold over-the-counter only;

• Hunters no longer must indicate a second choice of season on the application; and

• Youth 17 and younger by April 13, 2011, are not eligible to participate in the lottery and should purchase a license for the season of their choice over-the-counter.

“Hunters are strongly encouraged to read the application materials before applying for the lottery,” Penning said. “We want them to be aware of all the changes made to the application process.”

Hunters who are successful for in the drawing and choose not to purchase a tag will lose the current year’s preference point for future drawings, but not accumulated preference from past years.

Hunters who were not successful in the drawing will be eligible to purchase surplus turkey permits. These are sold, on a first-come, first-served basis in mid March.

Archery spring turkey licenses will once again be available for residents and nonresidents and may be purchased for the last two time periods only.

All wild turkey hunters seeking to hunt in spring 2011 may obtain an application information sheet at DNR license agents or view hunt information online at mndnr.gov/hunting/turkey.

Hunt information materials include a map of wild turkey permit areas, permit quotas, dates and information on changes.

For more information, call the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or toll-free in greater Minnesota at 888-646-6367.

National award recognizes MN as ‘Best Trails State’
From the DNR

In the spotlight again as a leader in outdoor recreation, Minnesota has been named “Best Trails State” in the country.

The award, presented to Minnesota by American Trails, recognizes a state which is facilitating an outstanding statewide system of trails.

The announcement comes on the heels of Minneapolis being named the #1 bicycling city in the U.S. (Bicycling Magazine, May 2010) and Minnesota being ranked the fourth most “bicycle friendly” state in the country (League of American Cyclists, May 2010).

Mark Holsten, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) – joined by representatives of the Parks and Trails Council of Minnesota, the Minnesota Recreational Trail Users Association, the Minnesota Recreation and Park Association, and the Metropolitan Council – unveiled the award today at the Minnesota State Capitol.

“Active partnerships with all trail users and support groups are the cornerstone of this successful trails system,” DNR Commissioner Holsten said. “The DNR would like to thank all of our partners – including all trail providers, trail advisory groups, and trail users – for supporting Minnesota trails.”

American Trails also recognized two Minnesotans with individual awards:

• Ron Potter, recreation systems manager for the DNR, received a State Trail Advocacy Award. His support of the state’s trail systems in the face of budget cuts continues to ensure the availability and accessibility of trails for all users.

• David Halsey, president of the Woodtick Wheelers ATV/OHM Club, received a State Trail Worker Award. He organized the club to reopen ATV areas in the Chippewa National Forest, and became a volunteer with the Forest Service to help the two groups understand each other’s needs.

Trails managed by the DNR include more than 600 miles of paved trails for biking, 1,000 miles of equestrian trails, 1,300 miles of cross-country skiing trails, 1,000 miles of off-highway vehicle trails, 4,400 miles of water trails, 1,000 miles of snowmobile trails, and several thousand miles of hiking trails.

Trails managed through a grant-in-aid system by local units of government and local clubs include more than 21,000 miles of snowmobile trails, 700 miles of cross-country ski trails, and 1,300 miles of off-highway vehicle trails.

Thousands of additional trail miles are provided by national, regional, county, and local units of government, as well as non-profit organizations, contributing to the award-winning system of trail opportunities throughout Minnesota.

“Minnesota’s extensive, scenic trails are a major draw for travelers and a significant asset to the tourism business in our state,” said John Edman, director of Explore Minnesota Tourism.

“These trails make your heart beat faster,” added Chuck Laszewski, communications director for the Parks and Trails Council of Minnesota. “These trails eliminate your stress levels. You cannot be on a horse in southwestern Minnesota and be grumpy. You cannot be bicycling the Gitchi-Gami trail, with Lake Superior over your shoulder, and not smile.”

A University of Minnesota economic impact study found that spending at Minnesota trails totaled more than $2.4 billion in 2008 and that some 30,900 full-time and part-time jobs were supported by trail spending.

Walking and hiking are the most popular activities on Minnesota trails, followed by biking, running, inline skating, ATV riding, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and horseback riding.

The Best Trails State award is presented every two years by American Trails, the only national nonprofit organization working on behalf of all trail types, including bicycling, hiking, cross-country skiing, equestrian, snowmobile, off-highway vehicle, and water trails.

More information about American Trails can be found online at AmericanTrails.org.

Take a virtual tour of four Minnesota state trails at www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_trails/virtual.html and several Minnesota snowmobile trails at www.dnr.state.mn.us/snowmobiling/virtual_tour.html.

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: Since a lot of private land is rented land, it can be confusing as to whom I should ask for permission to hunt that land. Who has the final say on giving permission?

A: This is a great question, and one that can be confusing and can get people into trouble if they do not know the answer. Minnesota law [M.S. 97B.001 subd. 2] gives equal status, and equal authority, to the owner, occupant or lessee (renter) of the lands to grant or deny access to private lands.

Therefore, it is important to know to whom hunters and other recreationalists may be speaking with and what link that person may have to that piece of property.

This underscores the importance of seeking permission early.

Waiting too long may not allow for enough time to track down the person or persons who have the authority to grant permission in time for the season opener.

Remember, respect private property and always ask first.

More information related to the trespass law can be found in the 2010 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations beginning on page six.

Outdoor notes

• As the pheasant season progresses into its final weeks, hunters are now noting that bird numbers, especially in western and southwestern Minnesota, were definitely lower then a year ago.

• The Minnesota duck hunting season ended November 30. Canada goose hunting in portions of the state continues until Dec. 25.

• Sharpen the hooks on your favorite ice fishing jigs.

• After a winter like November I have already been hoping for an early start to spring.

• The muzzleloader deer hunting season in Minnesota ends Dec. 12.

• Take a kid hunting or fishing; he or she will have fun, and so will you.